Vibrant A&S pride installation celebrates inclusion and diversity and helps youth in need

June 17, 2024 by Sean McNeely - A&S News

Suspended above Sidney Smith Hall’s atrium is a vibrantly colourful display that serves as a symbol of the Faculty of Arts & Science’s ongoing commitment to inclusion and diversity.

Created by the Arts & Science #DisplayYourPride team, the installation features 130 garments suspended by decorated clothespins, arranged in rows by colour to represent the 11 colours of the Progress Pride Flag.

“Participating in our annual Arts & Science #DisplayYourPride project is a highlight for me, personally,” says Lisa Rumiel, the director of research services in Arts & Science. “It’s the one time of year where staff in the dean’s office come together to create something totally unique, creative, beautiful, and fun … for a very good cause.”

A rainbow of clothing hangs from a ceiling.
All of the display's garments will be donated to Friends of Ruby. Photo: Diana Tyszko.

“It felt amazing to see the display come to fruition,” says Max Rostas, a facilities administrator with the Office of Infrastructure Planning. “I'm pleased with how it turned out. And I think the U of T community will enjoy it and what it represents.”

“There was a sense of pride — pun intended — in seeing the beauty of all of the hard work that myself, and fellow dean’s office colleagues, have put into this project over the past two months,” says Jeff Fulton, a facilities coordinator with the Office of Infrastructure Planning.

A variety of colourful painted clothing pins.
A sample of the colourfully decorated clothespins by A&S volunteers. Photo: Max Rostas.

For the display, Arts & Science partnered with Friends of Ruby, an organization dedicated to the well-being of 2SLGBQTIA+ youth in the Greater Toronto Area through mental health services, social services and housing.

More than 50 volunteers from across the faculty took part in crafting sessions over five weeks, decorating each individual clothespin with paint, glitter and other materials. An online photo display was also created to show the pins’ designs, as well as the volunteers taking part.

A person with colourful clothing pins clipped to the ends of their fingers.
Volunteer Selina Dong displays her decorated clothespins for the Pride display. Photo: Max Rostas.

The volunteers were so energetic and enthusiastic, they went above and beyond both in terms of collecting clothing items and decorating clothespins.

“Initially, we needed around 264 decorated clothespins to support donated clothing items and we ended up with roughly 400, which is a real testament to the fun people had during our crafting sessions,” says Rostas.

“I loved how excited everyone was to help in any way possible,” adds Fulton.

An image showing hands painting clothing pins.
More than 50 volunteers spent dozens of hours creating the colourful display. Photo: Max Rostas.

They also love the fact that this display is not only impressive visually, it will also help others in need. When the display is taken down, more than 250 new or gently used clothing items will be donated to Friends of Ruby.

“When I look at the display, I see a representation of our colourful and diverse community,” says Fulton. “It’s a symbol of inclusion that showcases how we come in all shapes, sizes and colours.”

Colourful painted clothing pins attached to strings on a wall.
Volunteers painted and decorated roughly 400 clothespins. Photo: Diana Tyszko.

The display was unveiled in Sidney Smith Hall on June 11 where volunteers and students stopped for cupcakes, a photo session and a moment to admire the installation.